By Albert J. Countryman Jr.
The Camden Diocese almost closed St. Mary School in Gloucester City for the 2010 school year, ironically after the school, the oldest in the diocese, just celebrated its 150th anniversary.
However, a strong push by concerned parishioners and Pastor Msgr. James Curran, St. Mary School will remain open to teach students for hopefully another 150 years.
“St. Mary School will stay in Gloucester City as St. Mary School,” Principal Gail Corey told the crowd of more than 100 parents during a special meeting last week at St. Mary Church. “This decision was based on a lot of resistance the Bishop (Joseph Gal-ante) was receiving.”
The Diocese was considering several options, including combining St. Mary School, St. Theresa School, Runnemede, and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School (formerly St. Francis), Barrington into one school at the site of the former Annunciation School in Bellmawr.
“We’re staying where we are. Thank God,” Dawn Burkhardt said. “I would like to thank the parents for all their hard work and dedication to our school.”
“We knew economically we had to make some serious decisions in the parish,” Joseph Rafferty said. “St Mary’s Parish needs to speak with a unified voice,” Rafferty said. “Now, we even have to work harder.”
“We want to make this evening a rallying point as we make a new beginning,” Msgr. Curran said, who said he is renewed in the enthusiasm to keep St. Mary School open and have a waiting list.
He also announced that Bishop Galante has re-appointed him as pastor of St. Mary.
“St. Mary School will stay open this year, next year, and for a long time,” Msgr. Curran said.
Sister Christine said, “This is a fantastic night, filled with enthusiasm. The teachers are all smiles, and Father will be here for another six years.”
Burkhardt is working on various projects, including fundraisers and creating an Alumni newsletter by the time of the annual fund drive in August.
All in attendance were hopeful that the “Bells of St. Mary” will ring for another 150 years.
source Gloucester City News, Inc.